Do you find yourself unsure what to make of product claims like “Certified cGMP” or “Paraben Free”? Have you found yourself staring at the ingredients of your favorite skincare wondering if they’re even written in English? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Let’s face it, skincare is hard!  With so many different products targeted at so many unique customers, it can be hard to pinpoint which will finally bring you the flawless and glowing skin of your dreams. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Let us help you decode what skincare icons really mean, and, more importantly, if they’re a good fit for you and your skin!

Shopping for cosmetics can be tough, particularly if you’re doing it online. There are so many options and so many different companies. One of the greatest issues aside from choosing the right product for you, is making sure that it comes from a reputable source.  American-made products have to adhere to a very strict set of requirements to be sold legally. Many foreign countries, on the other hand, have fewer safety and quality requirements. This can result in not only less effective products, but also in potentially dangerous ones. However, the benefits of buying American made products don’t stop there. Doing so also contributes to the American economy, reduces the pollution made from global transportation, ensures safe and fair working conditions, and helps us to avoid child labor exploitation. It is true that imported products can, at times, be slightly cheaper. You should, however, consider the reasons as to why this may be the case. 

 



Animal lovers rejoice! The "Cruelty Free" icon found on cosmetics means that product isn't tested on animals. Although some of these tests can be harmless, others can be downright, as the name implies, cruel. Anything from perfumes, to skin creams, to eyeliners can be tested on animals. Although not all of the animals are physically harmed in this process, they are still forced to live in a laboratory setting. Their days consist of sitting in a cramped cage and being prodded at by researchers. A life no living thing deserves. Unfortunately, though, many animals do experience physical pain. Many animals are intentionally given excessive amounts of a cosmetic or skincare product to see just how much can be applied before their skin becomes irritated. In other situations, the products will be intentionally rubbed into the animals’ eyes to see how badly it will affect them. In the worst cases, the animals will be forced to ingest the product to measure its toxicity. This can result in the animal becoming very sick, or even cause its death. As I think we can all agree, tests like these are inhumane. So, let's do our part to protect our furry friends and opt for cruelty-free products! 

Parabens are chemical preservatives added to increase the shelf life of many cosmetic products. They can go by many names, but the ones you're most likely to see on the ingredient list of your favorite products are ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and methylparaben. Although they are very commonly used, these chemicals have been under a lot of scrutiny over the last decade or so. Once parabens are absorbed by our bodies, they mimic the hormone estrogen that our bodies naturally produce. Some studies have shown that exposure to these estrogen-like chemicals can not only cause reproductive issues, but can also increase the risk of breast cancer. The verdict isn't officially out on these claims, but the fact that they are being debated as possible is reason enough for us to stay clear. Although many health advocates have been pressuring the FDA to ban parabens, like the European Union has already done, they have yet to do so. This leaves it up to you to protect yourself from these potentially dangerous chemicals. Opt for our selection of paraben free skincare! 

Sulfates are added to shampoos and soaps to produce that foamy lather that we're all accustomed to, as well as, to better cleanse the skin and hair of dirt and oils. Although sulfates DO make these products into better cleansers, they can go a little overboard on their oil removal crusade. This can cause the product to strip away too much of the natural oils present in our hair and skin, which can be especially troublesome for people that already suffer from sensitive skin or dry and damaged hair. The excessive removal of these natural oils from our skin and hair not only makes them less healthy, but also worsens their appearance. The absence of these essential oils can make our hair frizzy and brittle, while making our skin itchy, irritated, and dry. A little counterproductive if you ask us. Aside from directly damaging our hair, sulfates have also been shown to strip the dye from color treated hair. This means more frequently dyeing your hair to maintain your color of choice, a process which also damages hair. Luckily, there are many sulfate-free alternatives that clean just as well, without all the side effects!

When you see “Alcohol-free” on a product, the type of alcohol being referred to is ethyl alcohol. This type of alcohol is typically listed as SD alcohol or denatured alcohol on the ingredient list. Its purpose is to remove oils and bacteria from the skin. Although alcohol-based products do seem to get the job done, they really cause long term damage disguised by short term benefits. The matte finish left behind by these products is from the alcohol evaporating once it comes into contact with the skin. As it evaporates, alcohol damages the skin’s natural barrier and strips it of its natural moisture, making it more vulnerable to bacteria and other irritants. The loss of moisture is particularly bad for people with already dry skin. Those with oily skin, on the other hand, might temporarily get rid of some excess oil, but the skin will compensate for their removal by kicking its oil production into overdrive. This leads to more clogged pores and even more oil on the skin a few hours later. Regardless of your skin type, evidence shows that alcohols will simply make whatever issues your skin has worse, rather than improving them.

 

 


As with all things vegan, these products are animal friendly! This not only eases our conscience, but also our impact on the environment. Animal products are one of the leading causes of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Aside from being good to our furry friends and the environment, vegan products are good to you! These products use a few simple ingredients that offer Nature’s gentle benefits while avoiding harsh synthetic chemicals that are more likely to irritate our skin. Plant-based ingredients are packed with vital nutrients that hydrate and strengthen our skin. This makes these products effective for treating the causes of our problems rather than just sweeping their symptoms under the rug, as many industrially-produced ingredients do. Some synthetic ingredients can also be safe in certain amounts but may build up in our body over time, especially if you’re using several products that all contain the same synthetic ingredient. This accumulation in the body can turn a relatively harmless ingredient into one that damages our health over time. Most plant-based ingredients, on the other hand, are easy for our body to handle and can be quickly removed by our body’s natural processes if necessary.

Although no two people will have the exact same skin type, people typically fall into one of four categories. These include dry skin, normal skin, oily skin, and combination skin. Each of these skin types can be very different from one another and, as a result, traditionally required different things. A product made specifically for someone suffering from dry skin, for example, may use a very heavy oil-based moisturizer to hydrate their skin. However, if someone with oily skin were to use the same product, it would likely overload their skin. This could result in clogged pores, as well as, a greasy appearance and feel. Similarly, the lighter moisturizers meant for those with oily skin probably won’t offer enough hydration for someone with very dry skin. Unfortunately, products aren’t always clear as to which skin type they’re made for. This can cause consumers to unknowingly buy products that will only worsen their skin conditions. Products meant for all skin types, however, are specifically formulated to bridge the gap. Unlike traditional, overly specific, products, their gentle and unbiased composition allows them to be effective on any skin type.

Everyone likes things that smell nice. Some people even go so far as to choose products specifically because of the way they smell rather than how well they perform their function. Products like lotions, perfumes, and shampoos are among the most common personal care products to have strong fragrances. The pleasant scents, however, may come at a greater risk than you think. Typically listed under the ingredients as fragrance or parfum, these vague terms can refer to thousands of different compounds; many of which have been proven to have health risks. Not only that, but many products actually use a cocktail of anywhere from a few to over a hundred different compounds to achieve that pleasant scent. The health risks of many of these ingredients include an increased risk of cancer, heart problems, allergic reactions, and hormone disruption. They can also cause asthma, headaches, and skin irritation. Due to the current laws, companies aren’t required to disclose their fragrance formulas so that they can prevent other companies from duplicating them. As a result, the only way to be sure that you aren’t being exposed to these dangerous chemicals is to avoid artificial fragrances all together.

Moisturizing is critical in anyone’s skin-care routine. The problem with oil-based products is that they don’t absorb into the skin well. Unless you suffer from very dry skin, they typically just form a coating on the surface of the skin. This not only gives the skin a greasy appearance and feel, but also contributes to clogging pores. This is usually the case for people with normal skin, but the problem is only made worse if you have an already oily complexion. Those with an oily complexion that use oil-based products will notice that they just worsen their skin’s health and appearance. Water-based products, on the other hand, have a much easier time being absorbed by the skin, offering much more effective hydration for the skin. They’re also much less likely to clog the pores. This is particularly useful if you have acne-prone skin. While oil-free products are a wise choice for most skin types, those with oily skin will notice the most benefits from their use.

These products have been put to the test and have proven themselves beyond doubt. Products marked with this icon have undergone clinical trials and have given us hard evidence that they really do work in the way they’re meant to. In today’s day and age, there are too many “snake oil” products that talk a big talk but fail to walk the walk. There are few things more disappointing than getting excited over a new product and shelling out your hard-earned money on it just to find that the only results it has to offer are disappointment and a slimmer wallet. These researched and trusted products take the guesswork and risk out of buying skincare products. When a product is accompanied by this icon, you can be sure that the product has been proven to be not only effective, but also safe. If you value proof more than unsupported claims, then our researched and trusted products are the perfect choice.

cGMP stands for “Current Good Manufacturing Practice” regulations enforced by the FDA. These regulations ensure that these products maintain a certain level of strength, quality, and purity. In the cosmetic industry, this can be particularly useful to avoid deceitful companies. Deceitful manufacturers will advertise the use of a certain active ingredient in their products, however, they will only add a small amount. This allows them to list the active ingredient in the formula even if there isn’t enough of it present to actually offer the promised results. cGMP regulations not only monitor the source of a product’s raw materials, but also require manufacturers to have top of the line equipment to regularly test and maintain their products throughout the manufacturing process. This branch of the FDA has already been used to shut down several companies that were failing to adhere to their strict quality standards. This gives evidence to the enforcement of these regulations. Consumers themselves are unable to test products for these parameters. When purchasing products marked with this icon, however, there’s no doubt that what they’re purchasing is both effective and of high quality.

I think we can all agree that rashes, hives, itchiness, and redness are less than desirable and definitely aren’t something that our skincare products should cause. Products that are classified as “leave-on” like serums, moisturizers, lotions and perfumes are exposed to the skin for long periods of time; typically lasting from the time they are applied until we shower them off. Ingredients in these products like fragrances, preservatives, and artificial dyes are among the most common allergens in skincare and can irritate the skin of not only those who are allergic to them, but also those who just suffer from sensitive skin. Due to their decreased content of irritating ingredients, hypoallergenic products can also reduce flare ups in people that suffer from skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea. Hypoallergenic products are specifically formulated to avoid as many potential irritants as possible. Although this greatly decreases the risk of allergic reactions, those with severe allergies should still check the ingredients to avoid known allergens.

Like many other petroleum-based products, recent evidence has shown that the less refined versions of this oil can build up in the body and increase the risk of cancer. Although the higher grade, more refined, versions of this oil are less likely to cause cancer, you never really know which one you’re getting since the grade of the oil isn’t specified in the ingredient section. Companies looking to save money are likely to opt for the cheaper and less refined versions, posing some serious health risks. Internal health risks aside, it really isn’t great for your skin either. Mineral oil is known to clog pores and cause acne. The higher-grade versions of the oil are less likely to clog your pores, but still can. Mineral oil makes a sort of film over the skin’s surface to prevent it from losing moisture. Unfortunately, this barrier can also trap dirt and bacteria in our pores. This is a recipe for breakouts, especially for those with oily complexions. Although the oil does help to keep the skin moisturized, there are so many safer and more effective moisturizers available. This makes the risk greater than the reward for this ingredient.

It can be hard (and boring!) to go through all the ingredients of every product we use. Unfortunately, it’s important that we do so, especially if you suffer from sensitive skin. Many products contain harsh chemicals that can cause anything from skin irritation, to dryness, and even cancer! Ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and alcohols strip the skin of its natural oils. This can make the skin dry, weak, and irritated. Other chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and BHA, on the other hand, have been linked to cancer. These types of chemicals do get the job done, but, in the process, they damage our bodies. However, we’re lucky enough to live in the times that we do. Unlike in the past, there are a ton of gentler alternatives available today. So, to save yourself some time checking all the ingredients and to make sure that your skin-care products really are taking care of your skin, choose our line of products that are free from any harsh chemicals!

These products are made using only organic ingredients. For starters, this ensures that none of these products contain potentially-dangerous chemicals like aluminum, lead, or petroleum. These ingredients have been tied to many health concerns including Alzheimer’s disease, brain damage, and cancer respectively. Organic products also ensure that you won’t be exposed to any artificial fragrances, an ingredient that is known to be made up of cocktail of synthetic compounds. Artificial fragrances are among the most likely ingredients to cause allergic reactions. This can mean anything from skin irritation, to headaches, to respiratory problems. Many synthetic products can treat the symptoms of skin issues but fail to resolve the root cause of the issue.  As a result, they only offer a very temporary fix that can cause more damage than good in the long run. Organic products not only avoid these ingredients, but they substitute them with gentle and nutrient-rich alternatives. This results in skin that not only looks healthy, but skin that truly IS healthy.

The manufacturing of cosmetics can sometimes be a dirty business. Earth-friendly products are made with the planet and all of its inhabitants in mind. This planet-conscious effort can be made in a variety of ways. It could mean that the ingredients for that product have been responsibly sourced, avoiding deforestation that can harm the planet and the animals that inhabit the area. Alternatively, it can mean that the processing of the product was done in a way so that the waste and pollution caused by its production were kept as minimal as possible. Finally, it can mean that there have been efforts to make the product’s packaging leave behind as little waste as possible. Plastic containers are responsible for a massive portion of the world’s trash. By choosing to use less packaging and to make that packaging biodegradable when possible, we can paint a brighter future for the earth. Make the choice to purchase products that concern themselves with the planet’s well-being. It’s the only home that we have!

Synthetic dyes are used in a ton of cosmetics to give them a preferred color. Who doesn’t like something pretty, right? Unfortunately, these bright and beautiful dyes have a dark side. Many of the dyes you will find in cosmetics have already been banned in the food industry because of their apparent dangers. The reality, however, is that your skin also readily absorbs these chemicals, even if to a lesser degree. These artificial colors can contain coal tar, arsenic, and heavy metals which have been shown to irritate the skin and clog the pores. To make matters worse, they are then absorbed by the skin where they can potentially cause more damage.  Many dyes have been banned over the years because of their links to cancer, digestive issues, headaches, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Today, the FDA still approves of several synthetic dyes that have already been banned by the European Union. This raises questions about how safe they truly are. Luckily, there are many safer alternatives that can be used instead. Although the verdict isn’t officially out on all of these dyes, we’d rather not take our chances.

GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism” and although these products get a lot of attention in the food industry, their use in the cosmetic world is often overlooked. Proteins and oils derived from plants like corn, yeast, and soy can be found in many different cosmetics including moisturizers, soaps, and shampoos to name a few. These plants can be modified for a variety of reasons, but they’re typically altered to become more resistant to pesticides, to increase their nutrient content, or to be more resilient to environmental factors like drought and colder temperatures. Although this sounds good at first, studies have shown that GMO crops have a link to infertility, allergic reactions, and organ damage. There is a lot of debate as to whether these modified plants really are dangerous or not. Although there isn’t any concrete evidence of their danger yet, the technology is relatively new. This means that no long-term studies have been performed to fully prove their safety either. For this reason, it may be in your best interest to avoid them when possible until we know the truth, one way or the other.

If you have children in your house, you can ease your mind when leaving these products laying around. Anyone with kids knows that they can and do get into just about everything when they’re exploring. This can turn a child’s harmless curiosity into a very dangerous situation. Although these products are safe when used properly, they can quickly become dangerous if children get their hands on them. The often attractive packaging and colors of skincare products can be very tempting for kids to play with, particularly if they see their parent using it. Without child-proof packaging, an unsupervised child might consume these products or get them in places that can cause severe irritation or pain such as the eyes. Many skincare or over-the-counter products contain ingredients that are completely harmless when used on the skin, however, when they are eaten, they can make a child very sick or, in extreme cases, even result in their death. So, to keep yourself worry free and your children safe, consider our child-proof products.